by Greg Burton
This Thanksgiving, my family will be spending the day with Dr. Dwyer’s family. Neither of us is heading out of town this year so, they invited us to their house. The Dwyer’s take the Turkey Day spread to a new level so I can’t wait to feast.
Before we leave our house to head over on Thursday, I’ll hear my mother’s voice. I hear it every time we’re invited to someone’s house for a party or get-together. Her message was simple but firm: “Don’t show up empty handed.”
My mom says, “It’s the Italian way,” but there are many cultures who believe in the gesture even when the hosts insist on no gifts or present. For a time, I didn’t buy it.
I would always ask the host, “What can I bring?” They would respond with something like, “Just bring your appetite,” and I would show up, have a great time, and thank them at the end of the evening. I rationalized that if the hosts didn’t want us to bring anything then I should obey their wish. They would have plenty of food and drinks and they surely don’t need another chotchkie to clutter up their home.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. It dawned on my one night after a friend’s party when they host was truly touched by a small gift left by one of the guests. It probably cost less than five bucks but, by the look on the host’s face, you would have thought it was a diamond ring.
We all want to feel appreciated. At home or at work, we want our actions and deeds recognized. We are not in it for the accolades or gratitude but the acknowledgement may be why we continue to do it. The byproduct of appreciation is its ability to empower people.
Appreciation is not one of the core values of the Center for Sport Leadership but empowering is. Each time we express our appreciation to someone we are empowering them. We empower them to continue to deliberately act in an impactful way. It may empower someone to continue their generosity. It may empower someone at work to set and achieve new goals. It may empower someone to stay on a positive path towards a fuller life.
All of this isn’t to suggest that you start buying gifts to express your appreciation. A small token of gratitude like a gift card is a wonderful gesture. However,
I truly believe the two most valuable gifts you have to offer are your time and your word. Take them for a cup of coffee or lunch and express your gratitude for their assistance or a job well done. However you choose to express your appreciation, please know it will empower the recipient to continue their kindness, their hard work, their positive path.
I won’t show up empty-handed at the Dwyer’s for Thanksgiving. You should never be empty-handed when it comes to an opportunity to express your appreciation, for that appreciation will empower more good to come.
My mom was right again.